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Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21447
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
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She is about eight years old.She has started about a week

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She is about eight years old.She has started about a week ago.,we even put plastic on the couch and keep wiping with cleaners
JA: I'll do all I can to help. What is wrong with the cat?
Customer: There is nothing wrong with her to our knowledge, she is my little suck. She got disaplined last night and tonight. I was away for about a week, came home for a couple days and both of us were gone for five days. Someone came over to feed her and she is strictly a house cat. Her litter box is upstairs and another one downstairs. Should I try bringing the litter box downstairs. Personally I think she is getting lazy. I'll put some folding chairs on the couch to see if that discourages her. I don't want to give her up.
JA: Where does the cat seem to hurt?
Customer: The cat is not hurting
JA: OK. No obvious pain. What is the cat's name?
Customer: gracie
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Gracie?
Customer: No except she is overweight of course

Hi, I'm Cher. Welcome to JustAnswer.

I'm reviewing your question now and will post back with your reply, shortly.

Hi, again.

I'm sorry that Gracie is eliminating outside of the litterboxes. Is she only urinating or defecating, also?

I have some questions to ask you, to better assess the situation:

Did this start when you came home from your last time away?

What kind of litterboxes do you have? Covered or uncovered; small or large; what brand of little do you use?

What cleaners are you using on the couch or any other soiled areas?

Do you notice any other unusual behaviors, or is she acting as usual?

Is she eating and drinking well? What kind of food does she eat (brand and dry or canned)?

How did you discipline her?

Thanks for all your additional information and after you reply, please allow me a while to go over your responses and then, compose and send your detailed answer.

Kind regards,


Customer: replied 28 days ago.
She is only defacating. The boxes are both covered. I try to clean them out every few days. We also have another cat but they get along good. She gets half cup dry food, brand names and a scoop of soft food morn and night, store or brand names. One large litter box downstairs and a smaller one upstairs. We use Lysol, pet stain remover, febreeze etc. On the plastic on the couch and tarp currently over the plastic. She eats and drinks well. To discipline her she got yelled at had her nose rubbed in it a bit and a slap and I took her upstairs to her litter box .she peed in the downstairs litter box and she got petted for doing so. Right now she is patiently waiting for her soft food. This latest behaviour started as we both returned from our second trip.

Hello again, and thanks very much for your very helpful and detailed reply.

Two more questions: are her stools of normal consistency and color?

Does she strain or seem to be in any pain when she 'goes' and is she still using both litterboxes for all her elimination, when she's not going where she's not supposed to?



Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Her stools look normal and she does not seem to strain when going. The last few days she hasn't been using the upstairs litter box. Is she just lazy?
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Do you think Gracie is showing her displeasure at us for going away ? During the winter I was not at home as i was spending much time at the hospital being sick. She was pretty good for using the litter box because I was home on weekends.
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
Please Answer
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
We are waiting for a reply

Hi again, and thanks for your helpful responses.

No, I don't think she's lazy. When a cat stops using the litterbox, there's either an underlying medical problem, or it's a behavioral problem. The fact that she started this behavior after your absence, I believe is caused by stress. She's bonded to you and she was anxious when you were away. She's trying to speak to you with her waste and let you know something is wrong--she's feeling stressed and anxious. This product should help: Feliway. It comes in plug in diffusers that resemble plug in air fresheners, but emit cat-calming pheromones and have no scent to humans. Here is more information:


Next, I would take the covers off the boxes; many cats don't like covered boxes because it's a limited space, and also, the cover keeps all the smells in, so it's unpleasant. If you scoop the boxes once or two a day and add a little new litter twice a week, I think they will appreciate it. Make sure you use an unscented litter, and in addition, you can try Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract, which contains herbal attractants that encourage use of the litterbox. You can mix it with her regular litter.

If you haven't, yet, use an enzyme based cleaner like Nature's Miracle, Zero Odor, Odor Mute, and many others that are sold in pet stores, but make sure they say 'enzyme-based; removes organic stains/odors.

Cats don't respond to physical discipline or 'rubbing their nose in it,' so discontinue that. Vocal praise and getting petted for proper behavior, was a great move on your part!

I've been writing all this time, so I will send you what I have, but I am not finished. I appreciate your patience!

Hi again,

I had a lot to say and still have more! : )

I'm sorry that you were sick in the winter and were in the hospital, but, yes, the fact that you saw her on the weekends, helped. Earlier you had said 'we,' so, I'm assuming there was another person home with her when you were in the hospital. This last time you went away, no one was in the house and someone was feeding and giving her water, scooping the boxes, etc., but not staying in the house.

I believe this is most likely a behavioral problem, but it's always best to first bring her to her vet for a complete physical and a fecal sample analysis, just to rule out anything medical.

Also, try to feed one brand of food in both dry and canned. The food should be grain-free and not include any artificial flavors, colors and/or preservatives. Some good suggestions are Wellness, Wellness CORE, EVO, and many others in your pet store. Just read the label and make sure real meat is the first ingredient and it doesn't include any of the above.

If you try the Feliway and incorporate all the suggestions I recommended and she's still soiling outside the box, discuss with your vet, a prescription anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication at a low dose. I prefer to recommend prescription medication as a last resort. One that is good for this problem (mainly urination, thought), is called Clomicalm. Here is more information:


I hope all will be well with Gracie and this problem is resolved, soon; however, remember, that it might take a little while, especially if you're making some changes.

I hope you feel that I have given you Great Service. If so, a 5 star rating would be appreciated. Your rating should be based solely on my answer and not any site issue. Experts are not compensated for their assistance, until a positive rating is given.

If you have any other, related questions, please reply here, and I'll be happy to follow up with you at no additional charge, even after you have rated.

Thank you very much!

Warmest wishes,


Cher and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 28 days ago.
When I was sick there was no one home during the week days. She deffacted a couple times at the start but got better behaved as time went on during my sickness. I believe they both cats knew something was wrong with me at the time because when I got home after surgery I couldn't ge t rid of them for several days. They just kept hanging around me.

If no one was home during the day, when you were hospitalized, they still knew they would see you on the weekends and they began to accept that.

Yes, cats know when their owners are not well, and they either treat them as strangers, or become 'velcro,' like yours did, feeling like they're comforting you and watching over you. They love you!

Thank you very much for your great rating; it is highly appreciated!

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Customer: replied 24 days ago.
Okay so far. We haven't yet been to the pet store to purchase any of there products. I'm trying to spend extra time with Gracie when I get home from work hopping this helps. She hasn't shit on the couch so far mainly I put some folding chairs on the couch to help discourage the thought. As far as we know she is using the litter boxes, keep our fingers crossed. As far as our other cat, Ralph, nothing much bothers him.

Great! Sounds like the chairs did it. I don't know if I mentioned it, but you can put strips of double sided sticky tape on the tarp (after washing it really well, with the enzyme-based cleaner, so she doesn't smell where she peed before), covering the whole surface. Cats don't like 'sticky' under their paws, so that should stop Gracie from going there again. Right now, I'd stick with the chairs and get some (or 'a') Feliway plug ins from the store, when you can get there.

I'm glad Ralph is so laid back! : )